As we embark on this journey, INARF and Smart Partners Alliance need input from the best industry minds in Indiana to build a consensus for how we will move forward. To that end, State Use Providers and INARF member agencies gathered for Mega Issue Discussions around the topics of Day Supports and Community Employment.
To spark discussions around these crucial topics, participants were provided background information on the changing landscape in Indiana and across the country. Armed with this information, they were asked to break out into small groups and respond to the following questions:
- What opportunities are presented?
- What barriers exist?
- What can INARF/Smart Partners Alliance do to help agencies?
With increased community involvement comes an opportunity to educate our communities about the invaluable services provided, as well as to invite those in the community to get involved, all of which amplifies the positive impact the changes can have on individuals receiving services. Lastly, this is a chance for provider agencies and state agencies alike to evaluate their current organizational structures and processes, which leads to improvements in service delivery all the way around.
Of course, with all opportunities come barriers and challenges, and this Mega Issue is no different. Above all, participants felt that in transitioning to a more community-based approach, there will be an increased need for quality Direct Support Professionals (DSPs), as well as funding from both the federal and state governments. Even now, provider agencies struggle with hiring and retaining a qualified work force to deliver services on a daily basis. A transition to more community-based services will only amplify this challenge, making it difficult to effectively and efficiently deliver those quality services to individuals in the community.
Additionally, with a focus on community employment, there is concern that the current labor market will be unable to accommodate the increased demand for employment. Finally, the impending changes will have a large impact on Facility-Based Employment, including the State Use Program, which provides employment opportunities to several hundred individuals with disabilities.
Following the robust discussions about opportunities and barriers to Indiana’s transition to compliance with federal guidelines, we asked participants what it is that INARF can do to support them. It was no surprise that at the top of the list was continued advocacy on their behalf to legislators and the state administration. Additionally, ongoing support in building and strengthening relationships with those same legislators and state administration personnel was strongly recommended by those in attendance.
On top of advocating and relationship building on behalf of INARF members and State Use Program participating agencies, the provision of resources, education, best practices, and training were also named as key needs for agencies. Last but not least, participants are eager to participate in the various workgroups and committees that will be developed to tackle the topics discussed, as well as ensuring they have a seat at the table when INARF develops its positions and advances those to the appropriate state agencies.
As expected, new and innovative ideas came out of these discussions, which will be used as INARF, the State Use Program and their members work to reshape day and employment services throughout the state. As we embark on this journey together, INARF and the State Use Program pledge to continue to ensure that members and employment centers have a strong and unified voice. This is just the beginning, more to come!
Have comments or questions? Contact Christiaan Campbell or Keith Digman via e-mail or at the INARF office.